Obama, Science and Jello

Like any virgin I’ve been feeling timid about my first time… especially since I have to do it in front of so many people (potentially), blogging can be an intimidating practice when you’re fairly sure that someone might read it. But, one really does have to get the first time out of the way in order to be able to experiment later on. My name is Stephanie Gossett and I am a new blogger from the arts sphere here at UBC, Creative Writing program specifically, and oddly enough I’m going to talk a little science today.


Writing this from our SUB and watching sleepy ghosts wander in from the foggy bus loop, I realize that everyone looks tired already… I thought I would give you something to wake up for: SCIENCE WEEK 2009! Science Week is back at UBC folks, and while they may not be “hands down the best faculty” – as they CLAIM – they are holding a JELLO WRESTLING competition (WAIVER required) in the SUB this Wednesday, January 28th from 12:00-1:00PM (perhaps to recruit some fresh and really competitive scientists?). There is also going to be a Chemistry Magic Show, a Career Fair, and a sweet rock concert with Cold Fusion featuring State of Shock. The Faculty of Science is a persuasive and well funded community here at UBC so I expect the events to be well worth the effort. I ran into a couple science students running around campus with an actual Science Mouse mascot on Friday – the mouse assured me that most of the events would be a fun time for all.

While reading the blog below, Hope and Controversial Science, I myself pondered this new era the United States is entering. There has been an atmosphere of skepticism towards scientific authority figures and intellectualism in the U.S. since before Bush’s election in 2000, only recently has it become evident and dire to many that we have a legitimate climate issue. With the rise of anti-regulatory conservatives and fundamentalist Christians as political players the U.S. has seen several decisions from a Republican Congress to pass laws that were designed to disable clean air and water efforts and dismantle safeguards like the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, a tool meant to give legislators unbiased advice. Bush himself rejected the scientific consensus on global warming and it is rumored he suppressed an EPA report supporting that consensus. Basically among the other multiple devastating losses that the last eight years have seen, science has also suffered.

The United States has resided on an island removed from its own scientific community, often labeling ground-breaking science as “controversial” and promoting distrust of important issues like evolution and global warming. Gore felt the need to put the word “truth” in the title of his popular documentary due to so much of the public and political opinion being undecided, and in opposition to, the idea of global warming. Today evolution has become such a confusing topic it hardly even registers in the American consciousness as science, and seems more like an attack on religious beliefs; yet evolution is the root of many other hot topics like research of embryonic stem cells, abortion and the morning after pill – medical research that could save and improve lives. Research and policymaking that might aid the intertwined failing economic and energy crises’ is still being debated… But there is actual change happening; science is making a come-back with sites like The Weblog Awards. The Weblog Awards have been servicing the world wide web since 2003, and they are the world’s largest blog competition, this blog was my personal favorite.

Which brings me back to UBC’s Science Week 2009, I think it’s time science became our friend again. After all, next week our very own scientists are reaching out to us, let us edify hypothesis and promote research. It’s time to give some love to our scientists and their quest to understand, improve, and change our world so that we can create policies and make economic decisions soundly; lest we slip farther back into this conflict, giving fear a chance to dominate understanding. While I would like to see a more prominent science section in our world’s leading newspapers and major news channels… I’ll settle for a bunch of free cool events to attend; let’s read up on our new scientific role models and attend Science Week 2009 to do our part. After all, President Obama is doing his part: he has already announced Nobel laureate physicist Steven Chu as head of the Energy Department, and he selected a climate specialist and leader of the scientific community at Harvard, John Holdren, as his cabinet-level “science adviser” before he even was appointed to office (see the video here ); a decision Bush didn’t make until a year after his presidency began.

I’m excited to be here on Terry*. I’m pumped to talk about interdisciplinary issues, and questions that burn both sides of the brain – Science and Arts. Right now we need to make a conscious decision to marry these two disciplines; to be realistic about the way we live our lives and how our daily decisions affect the global community, science and art are both a much needed tool. I’ve mulled over various topics to focus on, and I have tested their titles and concepts on other students; I have some upcoming topics to keep an eye out for: The Recent Steep Rise in Student Debt, What does Global Citizen Even Mean?, The Hardest Working Arts Adviser in Town, Cell Phone Alternatives, and Keepin’ ‘Em Honest: Culprits of Bureaucracy at UBC, a series where I would like to put a request out there for anyone who has a grievance with the amazingly obtuse bureaucracy here at UBC, you can email me your stories at obtusebureau@gmail.com.

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Stephanie is a Creative Writing major who hails from sunny Los Angeles and recently relocated to Vancouver to discover alternative lifestyles for economic and ecological glory.